Tocando la Luz

Join South Slope yogis Jen and Tim for the NY premiere of their film Tocando la Luz (Touch the Light) at DOCNYC next Sunday 11/15 at 4:45PM! The film will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger and a reception hosted by PBS’ DOC WORLD.

Trailer & Tickets: exclusive clip of a baseball game for the blind:

Synopsis from the DocNYC catalog: Havana, Cuba. An up-and-coming singer searches for confidence, a young woman in love longs for motherhood and a veteran of the Revolution comes to terms with the death of her husband. Three women, united by blindness and a desire for independence, guide us through Cuba’s current economic and social landscape while pursuing their dreams and breaking through personal and societal limitations.


Student Story: Neyda Martinez

Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I was walking down Flatbush Avenue one day in a state of deep pain and emotional anguish, having lost my mother just a few months earlier. Feeling like an empty shell of my former self, I was “running on empty” when quite suddenly an ethereal voice whispered in my ear and directed me to “just melt the pain away.”  When I happened to look to the right, there was the Bikram Yoga studio! I’d never ever thought of doing Bikram Yoga before.

Coincidentally, the day before, I’d met Robbin Farrell. She joyfully stopped to say hello and acknowledged me for no reason but to say how lovely the flowers that I had just purchased were—sunflowers and white lilies. The following day, when I walked into the studio … there she was!  I started my practice in May of 2012 and I’ve kept it up ever since.

How has your practice affected your life?

When I started the practice, the physical and emotional pain was so great, I’d cry before, during, and after Pada-Hasthasana (Hands to Feet pose). I suffer from back pain and sciatica due to a series of falls I’d had in my early 20s and was also experiencing excruciating knee pain for nearly a year which my doctor could not explain.

It only took me a few weeks to get hooked. I bought both Bikram books and studied them religiously. I could feel the healing effects of the series early on, and the smallest gain in strength or an inkling of flexibility as I continued to practice got me excited. I was also grateful for the new-found ability to rest and to quickly rid my mind of any annoying thoughts and stupid chatter. However, it was the community of kind yogis at the studio and the compassion of the instructors that gave me the most hope. Reflecting now, I must have really been a mess with all of that crying during and after class, but at that time, I felt a break-through was on the horizon. A year later, my sister came with me to a class. She now practices too. And, though we live in different cities, we share this connection; it’s the most beautiful gift in the world!

What keeps you coming back for more?

Well, I’m hooked for life. No matter what I do … dance, ride my bike, or work out at the gym, the Bikram series is my priority and my anchor. I love that these postures are among the oldest forms of physical therapy. I have faith in the method and the discipline in keeping up with the practice. I do believe that it’s a mind-body-spirit connection with yourself and the universe around you that is developed and strengthened. Now, every day on the mat is a day for which I am grateful. I never leave a class without having learned or experienced something new. The hardest part for me sometimes is just simply looking at myself: I see my fears and I see my vulnerabilities. But there’s nothing to do in that hot room but to work through it. On days when I am exhausted or feeling especially challenged or fidgety, I remember to smile (a little or a lot) during my practice. I love the simplicity of it all.  A mat and a bottle of water and a little nourishing food is all we really need. Well, that and love!

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

Well, it’s not my advice but rather the words of a fellow yogi who shared this with me recently after a class: “This yoga is life; it has nothing to do with feeling comfortable. We must learn to live outside of our comfort zone.”

My simple advice: Don’t give up! If this particular type of yoga is not for you, try other forms of yoga until you find the right one for you. You deserve the peace, the health, and the mental clarity that comes with it. You are worth it.


Student Story: Savannah

Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I started practicing on February 2nd of 2015. I basically got into yoga because my friend Yulia scared/convinced me to try it. I’ve done other yoga/exercise before but I never really stuck with it. Having someone who expects you to be at class really helps.

How has your practice affected your life?

I definitely notice myself being a much happier and enthusiastic person in my workplace and on a daily basis. I also just dropped a pant size! So yeah!

What keeps you coming back for more?

I saw results very quickly and continue to do so; my body just feels amazing! I want to see what else I can do. Oh, and I’m also doing the 30-day challenge so I don’t really have a choice.

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

Hmmmm …advice? Well, try and find a friend or partner who practices to keep you accountable. I probably wouldn’t have gone back after my first trial week if Yulia wasn’t there for me. And also, if you don’t get something right away, don’t stress yourself out and get mad. I was super hard on myself in the beginning but every day I kept improving. I just now wrapped my foot around my calf while in eagle pose and that was the most exciting thing in life to me. I guess all I’m saying is to stick with it. I’m so glad I did!

photo: Monica Felix

Teacher of the Month: Karli McGuiness

I started practicing Ashtanga yoga on a mat next to my older brother’s when I was a toddler and I giggled through my first several years of practice because we thought the chanting of “Om Shanti” was hysterical. My mother and grandmother belonged to an ashram in Long Island, so we were around yogis often. I practiced sparsely throughout my childhood and teens, but mostly took up equestrian riding and other sports.

I returned to (Bikram) yoga in high school and college but really began my daily practice in 2009 when I moved back to the States from a year abroad. The philosophy of yoga is one that has been a familiar thread throughout my life, but no other practice has transformed my mind (and as a result, my body) like Bikram yoga. My athletically disciplined mind became more determined than ever. My self love and artistic creativity expanded 100 times over. Compassion for others had always been important to me and I loved that my Bikram practice fed that. I physically felt like I could do anything. I started canceling social plans so I could take class… I was hooked!

Becoming a Bikram teacher has been, and continues to be, one of the greatest lessons and gifts Bikram Yoga has given me. I continue to learn and be inspired through teaching. Making note of how this yoga has changed my life would be an extremely long list, which would definitely lose the attention of those reading this! What I believe to be more powerful is how I have seen this yoga transform my students. I have seen those who have been disempowered by traumatic physical and emotional circumstances in their life take their power back, literally by the sweat of their brow. I have seen self esteem blossom and kindness grow where resentment once was. I have seen tremendous efforts and strides made towards patience, empathy, understanding, and acceptance of not only individuals, but of the group.

Our Bikram Yoga Park Slope community is incredibly special and the only proof you need is right in the locker rooms! The encouragement that happens from veteran students to newcomers over a shower after a killer classes is heartwarming. The bonds made over students navigating through tough personal issues while having their yogi friends to encourage them and their practice to ground them has been among the most special things to witness as a teacher.

BYPS has become home to so many, and I am SO proud to call it my yoga home. The only advice I have for new students is to drink plenty of water in preparation for class and just get to class! Then come back, even if it’s hard! Oh, and please don’t wear cotton, it makes you feel sooo much hotter. We have that part taken care of for you 😉 My last tip is paraphrased from Bikram himself: Let nothing steal your peace. You are infinitely stronger than you think you are. Never, ever give up.

photo: Monica Felix



Student Story: Michele Harper

I am so proud to be a part of this project!

I began practicing Bikram yoga when the Flatbush studio first opened. I lived in the neighborhood and was attracted to the concept of a hot sweaty studio and only 26 postures. I loved the fact that each class was the same every time and at that point I was searching for more discipline.

After two classes a week for almost a year, I felt great and looked amazing. My coworkers and friends all wanted to know what I was doing, and of course I told them Bikram yoga. Most of those friends joined a studio and are still practicing today.

The challenges of work and personal distractions seem to always push me from the practice, but when I need to ground myself, burn off fluff, and shine like the sun….I know that Bikram yoga is my holistic health sanctuary.